Friday, November 14, 2008

Tennyson and a two-year-old

Tennyson put it all rather better in In Memoriam A.H.H. -

I sometimes think it half a sin
To put in words the grief I feel:
For words, like Nature, half reveal
And half conceal the Soul within.

But, for the unquiet heart and brain,
A use in measured language lies;
The sad mechanic exercise,
Like dull narcotics, numbing pain.

In words, like weeds, I'll wrap me o'er,
Like coarsest clothes, against the cold;
But that large grief that these enfold
Is given in outline and no more.

In other words, it's good to have a bit of a moan but it's better not to overdo it. (Tennyson had just lost Arthur Hallam, his best friend.) So I'll stop for now. Thank you for your finely judged sympathy - much better.

I'm sure I do it myself - try to put the bright side to people who - darn it - don't want the bright side right at that moment. They want a bit of a wallow. And possibly cake.

To deviate slightly - one of my evening class students was telling me about an occasion when she was trying to reason with her small daughter. SD listened for a while and then said gently, as if to someone of limited intelligence, "But Mummy, I'm only two!"

6 comments:

Molly said...

Mr. T did have a fine way with words....'Tis true that they "half reveal and half conceal"....but oh...using them to deal with life, to sort out pain and trouble, to comfort and console, is such a comfort!

Jellyhead said...

What a bright and wonderful two-year-old. She'll go far!

Glad you're feeling better :-)

Thimbleanna said...

Ah see? You're in great company with Lord Tennyson. Write just enough to wrap you up and keep you from the cold.

You're always such an inspiration Isabelle! And maybe you should use the line like the two year old ... "But darling, I'm just a mum!"

meggie said...

I will never stop wanting to mollycoddle my son, of 40, who has such a sad life now, on his own. I don't feel guilty for loving him, & missing him. I say bugger what is only 'right & proper'. We are allowed to feel the way we do!

Brandi said...

What a beautiful poem! You always seem to post the most wonderful things here ...

Lucy said...

Reminds me a bit of my friends' bilingual youngsters who, when I remarked that their French was much better than mine, said 'Well yes, but we are children...'

Tennyson may have thought it half a sin but it didn't stop him going on about it for 133 cantos. Actually I love IM, though I'm sure studying it for A level turned me into a maladjusted teenage depressive. That's right, blame it on Alfred.

Have you read AS Byatt's novella about it? I can't remember what it's called but it's the second part of 'Angels and Insects'. Weird and really good.

Doubtless you didn't get many hits for this as no one studies the old codger at school any more, since unlike Mrs Gaskell he hasn't been on the telly.